Just imagine a life in Spain! Wake up to warm sunny weather every day. Walk to the market (without a coat!) and buy fresh locally grown produce. The warm wonderful climate has drawn millions visitors for hundreds of years. The big vibrant cities of Barcelona and Madrid often draw those who only have time for a taste of Spain, but there is so much more than the big cities. Take the historic city of Toledo with one of the oldest cathedrals in Christendom, a massive gothic landmark that reigns over this beautiful preserved city. And then there’s ancient Granada in the south, ruled for hundreds of years by the Moors and then taken by the Catholics in 1492. The Moorish architecture is still evident in the famous Alahambra created as paradise. It has recently been restored and is a good reason to visit Spain, all by itself!
While Spain attracts the millions of tourists every year for the history and architecture, the cities are quite modern and not what you’d expect. Other than the ancient buildings, Barcelona is much like any other big citiy with cell phones, wifi, modern transportation, and commerce.
But Spain has always been a mecca for artists, partly because of the brilliant light of the Mediterranean climate, but also because the country just has so much to paint, sculpt, and film. The food and the wine are second to none in all of Europe.
Living in Spain might be cheaper than you think. Although Barcelona and Madrid demand the higher rents, the smaller towns and villages are much more economical. A two bedroom house in Valencia will run $600-1,000 US a month. You can find homes in the suburbs for under $100,000 easily. It’s not hard to find a winter vacation home along the coast that will rent for the season or for a month. Overall, the cost of living in Spain is one of the lowest in Europe. Restaurants are lower priced as are groceries and utilities. There is a rapid speed train that goes to most major cities and the rest of the country is accessible by bus – which is an experience all in itself.
In the rural areas, you should know a bit of Spanish as, after all, this is their country. The popular tourist destinations speak more English, but don’t expect them to. There are parts of Spain that have their own language – Catalonia and the Basque regions come to mind. It’s OK if your Spanish isn’t perfect – they know you are a gringo and appreciate your effort.
Spain is slower paced than most places. It will take forever to get someone to fix something for you. A promised delivery may be this week, or maybe next week and you may have to call a couple of times to remind them. You are expected to tip for any kind of service including meals, deliveries (no matter how late), taxi’s, bar food, etc. Dealing with officials is like walking through mud. Be patient, polite, and smile – no matter what.
That said, if you retire in Spain or just plan an extended stay for 3 months, Spain is a wonderful place to be in your life. Many many Brits have summer homes in Spain and then retire down here. Our favorite is the Andalusia region in the south. White villages with colorful doors, flower boxes, flamenco and horses. Beautiful beaches with crystal clear water. Ahhhh…Spain!
Living in Spain
Pros: Cost of living, Delicious food, Culture, Friendly People
Cons: Language. It can be very hot in the summer
Best Places to Live: Andalusia
Favorite Inexpensive Events: Street Markets, Walking Tours, Historical Sights
Did You Know: Spain is from the word ‘Espania’ meaning ‘land of the rabbits’!
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